What is a feltmakers convergence?

A Convergence is a gathering of felt makers, and the sharing of knowledge, experience and ideas is the underlying theme. The Southern Hemisphere Feltmakers Convergence has been happening bi-annually since 1990. Each convergence is a little different, reflecting the fact that a feltmaking group in a different location hosts it entirely voluntarily. A convergence is an amazing event and some feltmakers have been attending them over many years ensuring lifelong friendships. The convergence program differs from year to year as it is traditionally largely made up of feltmakers who volunteer their time to share their knowledge, ideas and experience of feltmaking. A convergence attendee can expect many inspiring tutorials, workshops, opportunities to display your work, a fashion parade, installations, community group projects, lectures, professional development, informal demonstrations, a place to felt to your hearts content, traders trading their supplies, many networking opportunities, and much laughter and camaraderie with other feltmakers. It is a whole week immersed in the wonderful stuff of felt. Eat, sleep, and drink felt if you are that keen! It covers every aspect of felt making and is suitable for all levels of experience, wherever you are at with your own feltmaking journey. The 12th Convergence will be held in The Illawarra Region of NSW Australia, 1st-6th September 2013. It will be hosted by The Illawarra Feltmakers inc. Come along, learn, share, felt and have fun.

Applications for enrollment are expected to go out October 2012. If you would like to be on the email list please let us know. 12thfeltconvergencesh@westnet.com.au

History of Convergence

Article reproduced with permission from for Felt magazine issue #1  wwwfeltmagazine,com.au

The History of “Organised” Australian Felting— how it all began

By Christine Sloan

In October 1994 the 3rd Southern Felters Convergence was held at the Bunbury (WA) Grammar School—an excellent venue set in the Australian bush. This bi-annual event had previously only been staged in New Zealand, and it was the first time many Australian feltmakers had the opportunity to attend a large celebration of this sort, in their own country.

The Convergence was hosted by the Bunbury felters with a very able Val Gilmore at the helm and was a wonderful time of sharing, learning new techniques and forging felting friendships (which are still strong today). There were 65 participants from all over Australia plus another 25 from New Zealand and we all had a fantastic week!

 All the demonstrations and workshops were provided on a voluntary basis by the participants, in keeping with the theme of sharing our skills and knowledge, and it was amazing to see the creativity and diversity of the feltwork. Some of the many topics covered were; felt crepe, hat making, felted silk lace, fine garments felted in the washing machine, design and imagery, gossamerfelt, floor rugs and bed quilts, creative felt embroidery, melanian felts, screen printing onto felt, coats, jackets, wall hangings, woven felt bags and baskets, plus beads, bangles and balls!

 An open forum was held on the importance of good presentation and the marketing of our work. We had demonstrations on Holly’s felting machine, fashion parades, an exhibition of beautiful work, plus talks, presentations and slide shows that covered every conceivable aspect of the art of felting. Although it was a very full schedule, there was still time for individuals to enjoy trying out these new felting techniques. I even saw addicted feltmakers laying out a floor rug at 2am in the morning!

The week flew past and we arrived at the final Party Night where everyone had a ball and enjoyed singing our theme song about Polly and Molly and Holly. The Convergence was a magical experience for us all and it was with great sadness that the goodbyes were said as we departed for home, brimming with new felting ideas and skills.

 After Bunbury there was an explosion of felting around Australia. Within six months Jenni Farrell and Rachel Meek had formed the Canberra Feltmakers, who then hosted the next Convergence in 1996—another fantastic felting experience. This was followed by the formation of the Victorian Feltmakers who have also hosted Convergences, and many smaller felting groups began meeting around Australia. The 6th Southern Felters Convergence was held at Dickies Beach, Caloundra in 2001 and organized by Phillipa Rooke and friends. An outstanding Felt Exhibition was staged at the Caloundra Regional Gallery at this time too, with a diverse range of feltwork on display by Australian Feltmakers.

The 10th Southern Hemisphere Feltmakers Convergence will be held at Masterton in the North Island of New Zealand, from 27 September to 2 October this year. For more information and/or registration forms go to www.feltmakersconvergence.blogspot.com I feel that Australian felt-makers lead the world with their innovative felting, possibly because we don’t have a traditional background in this ancient medium and so there are no barriers to our experimentation—but also because of the high quality fine wool that we have available for felting, which inspires our creativity. Enjoy your felting experiences and try to attend at least one Convergence in your life time!